Youth party welcomes success of 4th round of GRP-NDF talks, backs call for free land distribution

Friday, April 7, 2017

Kabataan Partylist lauds the GRP and the NDFP for another successful round of peace talks, and the agreement of both parties for free land distribution.

“The fourth round of talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines concludes on a positive note with more agreements on free land distribution to support agrarian reform and rural development. We welcome this breakthrough as a just and necessary step to address landlessness and agrarian unrest, and to correct the social injustices long suffered by farmers,” Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago said.

According to the Joint Statement of both parties on the fourth round, “The Reciprocal Working Committees on Social and Economic Reforms (RWCs-SER) firmed up their agreement on distribution of land for free as the basic principle of genuine agrarian reform.”

“The NDFP believes that free land distribution is key to dismantling the so-called land monopoly or the concentration of thousands of hectares of land in the hands of very few families. The President has expressed support for this and, in fact, the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill is considered one of the administration’s priority bills,” Elago added.

To complement land distribution, the NDFP also pushes for rural industrialization which includes “the provision of more farm technicians, agricultural credit to the tillers, post-harvest facilities, marketing agencies, irrigation systems, and farm-to-market roads which shall be an integral part of the agrarian reform program,” as stated in the NDFP Draft of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).

“This landmark round sets the tone for the succeeding rounds of talks which we envision having a more fruitful, albeit heated, discussion on fundamental reforms necessary to address the roots of armed conflict. The signing of the Agreement on an Interim Joint Ceasefire aims to provide a more enabling and conducive environment towards the signing of CASER, but it is still our firm resolve to continue to strengthen the mass movement and collectively rally towards achieving peace based on justice,” Elago explained.

Expedite release of prisoners

Aside from forging an Agreement on an Interim Joint Ceasefire, the parties also agreed to release prisoners. The GRP recommended the conditional pardon of 23 NDFP-listed prisoners, including three consultants, exploring all means necessary to do so.

The NDFP and GRP also agreed to undertake measures to immediately and safely release the four remaining New People’s Army captives.  Those held in SOCSKSARGEN are to be released before Easter (April 15) and those in Bukidnon and CARAGA after Easter.

“We welcome the release of prisoners. Both parties must expedite the safe release of these prisoners, but must also discuss the release of the other 400 political prisoners nationwide,” Elago said.

CASER before ceasefire

“We remain wary that the GRP merely wants to elicit a bilateral ceasefire from the NDFP. We think of it as a tool for pacifying and capitulating the revolutionary forces. We’d like to remind the President that it is the strength of the revolutionary forces and strong public support that enabled the peace talks to move forward. We also like to remind him that the talks are about bringing fundamental socio-economic changes to address the roots of armed conflict, and not merely surrendering arms without seeking answers to longstanding problems,” Elago said.

“We implore the FIlipino youth and the people to rally behind the cause for genuine agrarian reform, starting with free land distribution. Aside from providing relief for our farmers, genuine agrarian reform will build the foundation for national industries to spur our economy and change the decades-old rotten system. Moreover, it is in the youth’s interest to support the peace talks because included in CASER is the provision of free education for all at all levels, which will more likely be tackled in the following rounds of talks. That’s why the youth needs to rally behind the passage of CASER, and other substantive agendas, and the implementation of genuine reforms,” Elago added.

“As long as these roots of our crises remain, the youth and the people will keep fighting for a just and lasting peace, under a humane society free from oppression,” Elago concluded. ###